I always bake the birthday cakes for my kids from scratch. It's just a memory that I want them to have, Mom's homemade cakes. Since they've been old enough to express their own opinions, I've let them choose what kind of cake they want. I thought they'd merely decide the flavor of the cake and frosting. Maybe they'd go wild and request ice cream cake. I was so naive then!
My forays into cake decorating started out simply enough. When my oldest turned one, I made rainbow colored cupcakes for his little, baby playgroup. The following year, I sketched an icing Elmo onto his cake. Eventually, between the various kids (and my husband) I made cakes with assorted superheroes, flowers, and sayings on them.
K-boy, as the oldest, was the first of the kids to begin unusual cake requests. He focused on flavor and texture, and I was happy to comply. We ate a cake with green chocolate chip cookies on the sides when he turned 11 (he was deep into his Percy Jackson phase). The cookies were supposed to be blue, but try adding blue food coloring to yellow eggs.
Somehow over time, my kids got the idea that I'm capable of the cake masterpieces that dominate Food Network shows.
For my daughter's second birthday, I made her a lovely, two layer cake with pink frosting and purple icing flowers. When M-girl turned three, she decided that she needed a pink, three tier cake....the third tier to reflect her advancement in age. I thought it was cute. Now every year she adds one more layer to her cake wishes. She's eight now. Frosting, it turns out, is not the best mortar for major construction projects. Yeah, next year I need to invest in some dowels to hold the thing up.
For three years running, D-boy wanted a cake shaped like Gordon the blue engine. They don't make cake pans for that. Did you know that Oreo cookies have hidden uses? Last year, Gordon was traveling up a mountain. I became an expert at train cakes.
D-boy turned six this week. I thought maybe he'd want a cake with some Lego Star Wars characters dueling on it. He had nothing so easy in mind. His birthday cake vision was of two Teddy Bears hugging. Not just any two teddies, but his favorites, Bob and Bentley.
In order to uphold my reputation I gave it my best shot. Despite my lack of time, professional equipment, and a small kitchen fire (hint: mini chips will burn much sooner than the regular size ones), the cake came out OK. Actually it looked pretty great, and it tasted delicious.
Now that I'm done wiping powdered sugar off most of my kitchen surfaces, all of the effort was worth it. The best moment was when D-boy looked at the finished cake and proclaimed, "It's amazing!"
Oops, I have to go. M-girl is already putting in her next birthday cake request. I've got to stock up on baking supplies!
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